Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Indigenous Woman Is First To Be Appointed To State Commission On Women And Girls

Speaker 1: 00:00 For the first time an indigenous woman has been appointed to join California's commission on the status of women and girls. Jolie Proudfit is Louis [inaudible]. She has been department chair of American Indian studies and director of the California Indian culture and sovereignty center at California state university, San Marcos, since 2008. And professor Proudfit joins me now. Welcome. Speaker 2: 00:25 Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here, Speaker 1: 00:28 You know, first, what does it mean to you to have the opportunity to represent indigenous women on this stage? Speaker 2: 00:35 Well, anytime I have the opportunity to be in uplifting or amplify the voices of native peoples and in this case, native women and girls, uh, it means so much, it means so much because you know, for so long and far too long, the invisibility and the eraser of native peoples and especially native women and girls has been the norm. And so I'm excited to not only have a seat at the table, but have an opportunity to work with other women to help shape policy, to better the lives of all women in California. And for my focus, especially that of indigenous women and girls Speaker 1: 01:16 You're confirmed by the state Senate. How do you see your role on the commission bringing attention to issues that impact indigenous women and girls? Speaker 2: 01:25 Well, first and foremost, just having me present is bringing forward that we are still here, that we are visible, that we are present, that we are in many cases, thriving and other cases, we have, um, issues of inequities that we must address. But the fact that my very presence means that our existence is, is key to being able to address the issues affecting indigenous women and girls, and also to highlight, um, and honor the resilience and the beauty and the successes of indigenous women to share with others. So I just think my, you know, having me as a part of this commission is an opportunity to engage, to learn, to listen, um, but ultimately make positive change for all of California's women. And especially that of indigenous women and girls, Speaker 1: 02:21 You mentioned being able to raise awareness about the presence and the contributions of native women and girls in this state. Can you tell me more about that? Speaker 2: 02:30 Yes. I think it's critical to not just focus on the inequities and what's wrong with, um, the issues affecting indigenous women and girls, but to amplify the native joy, the successes, the contributions of indigenous women. And there are many we're leading in so many capacities and in governance and leadership, we have Deb Helen. Now who's the first indigenous person to have a cabinet level appointment. She's our secretary of the interior. We have indigenous women who are leaders in all areas of tribal governance. We have a Digitas women who are leaders in education and media arts, um, and, um, music who are some who are on the New York times bestsellers list fashion. So I really want to showcase that as well. The contributions that indigenous women, especially California Indian women make to this great state and this economy, and as well as be able to address the inequities and the shortcomings so that all indigenous women and girls have the opportunity to live their best lives. And Speaker 1: 03:36 In addition to the joy and the contributions there, there are also those inequities that you just mentioned. Uh, we know that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted indigenous people. How do you hope this commission can address the impacts of COVID-19 in indigenous communities? Speaker 2: 03:54 Well, COVID-19 underscored those inequities that we know have long since been there, and those are economic. Those are healthcare, those are educational inequities. And so we have no excuse, but to close the gap and make sure that all the women in California and especially the first peoples of California have the same opportunities to really live a self-determined life. And so I hope that we can really focus on making sure that we have the best quality health care for our women and girls, that we have the best opportunities for employment development, pay equity, you know, no native, uh, female who wants to have a business should have any, um, impediments to having a thriving business. And I firmly believe that education is a path if not the path to self-determination. And so while we have, you know, the best, uh, university systems on the planet, I believe here in California, the access and the opportunity has not been there for everyone equally. So let's make sure that our girls have the best experience K through 16 so that they can aspire and become whomever and whatever they want to do, and be good contributing factors to their tribal communities, to the state and the world at large, Speaker 1: 05:23 I, you know, murder and sexual assault impact indigenous women at higher rates than their non-native counterparts. According to research, what are some of the priority issues impacting indigenous women and girls that you want to address? Yes, Speaker 2: 05:37 Bringing attention to this issue is so critical because while we know the stats in Indian country, and we have many amazing native women and native women organizations working to address these issues, we cannot do this alone. So we need to be working with our law enforcement, our state agencies, to address these issues of violence against women perpetrators, who in the majority happened to be non-native. And as they come on to tribal lands, making sure that our native women are addressed and more importantly, making sure that our girls are having, um, the opportunity to make sure that they have a lifestyle that is protecting them from ever experience these types of issues. So it's going to take an all hands on deck approach and native women need all the help that they can get from our local partners to our local law enforcement, to our state agencies, to help address these issues of violence against native women and girls. And, you know, we live in such a large state and having, um, a close proximity to the border can create many, many issues. San Diego county is home to eight reservations, eight tribal nations. And so we can do better. We should do better. And if we all work together that I think we can finally begin to tackle this issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and violence against native women. What are the biggest challenges Speaker 1: 07:09 To addressing some of these issues? Speaker 2: 07:12 In my experience, some of the biggest challenges has been that indigenous women and girls have simply been an afterthought or not even on anyone's radar. So the fact that governor Newsome has appointed me to finally serve on a commission, such as this, the ability to bring representation and visibility to these issues is already a win in my mind. And I think bringing the visibility and bringing our issues to the forefront and making sure that we always have a seat at the table will help them address these issues. I've Speaker 1: 07:48 Been speaking to CSU professor Jolie Proudfit, who is the first indigenous woman appointed to California's commission on the status of women and girls, professor Proudfit. Thank you so much for joining us and congratulations to you. Thank you so much.

Ways To Subscribe


KPBS Midday Edition SegmentsMidday Edition